How much financial support do you give your family?
When Sara was born, we were already thinking about her college fund. I remember my wife asking me whether we should setup a bank account for her many months ago, but at the end, we decided to just write down how much she actually owns without setting up an explicit account.
These days, we just spend money on her as needed. “Honey, time to buy formula” and “the diapers are running out” are common phrases in our household. Though we no doubt added a few luxuries, like one too many hats that she never liked wearing anyway, or that pair of pants that she wore a total of 2 times because she already outgrew them by the time we put it on for the first time, we led our appreciation for a simple life guide us.
At the end of the day, we were living well within our means, and the decision to spend money on Sara was, as a result, trivial thus far.
What About Me Growing Up?
And I reckon it’s similar for my parents too. Though many parents spend quite a bit of thought on how to teach their children proper financial values (a subject we often explore in kids and money), quite often, the decision is guided by how much they could actually afford. Sure, the it’s a tough sell when it’s about a pack of gum on the way to the checkout counter, but as to that first car, it’s definitely not in the cards.
My parents provided everything for me any parent could possibly think of growing up. Our family weren’t financially rich in any stretch of imagination, but as a kid, I didn’t have a clue. School trips? Sign me up. Car rides home? Every single day. Fancy lunch boxes? You mean mine?
I didn’t get everything just because I knew how to say “I want” of course. I begged, screamed and probably said a ton of hurtful comments for a good half a decade because I wanted a car with a manual transmission. It went no where, but in general, I never felt deprived.
I was loved like no other, and the reality is that much of all the acts of affection cost my parents money. Money they could have spent shopping, money they could spend on vacations and money they could happily use in retirement.
Do You Offer Help to Your Parents?
When it’s your children, the decision to take care of them before they are able to provide for themselves is easy to make. I’d argue that if your parents are struggling financially, the offer to help them out financially is also trivial. After all, they probably spent years sacrificing just to make sure you grew up happily and without worry.
But what if your parents seemed fine on their own? How much (if anything) do you offer then?
Based on several impromptu and general discussions, my parents have solid finances. Sure, there is always a more luxurious zip code to live in or a fancier car to own, but there is no worries of meeting basic needs. For the most part, my parents don’t need my help, but it’s time to offer. I mean, if it wasn’t for my existence, my parents might very well already be living in that more luxurious zip code and driving that fancy car.
But how much? I’m young, and good times don’t always last forever. Just as parents don’t want to provide their children with too much because it sets them up for failure, does the same hold true in the other direction? If I start offering substantial financial support to my parents and it indirectly inflates their lifestyle, am I the person to blame if, down the road, I can no longer afford the same support and they the higher expenses?
Of course, much of this boils down to my own unique circumstance. The amount of support in question, the dependability of my income, and the type of people my parents are will all be factors in the outcome.
Let’s imagine for a minute that you are me. What would you do? And while we are at it, do you provide support to your parents, or in general, your family? How?